Washington is in the unusual position of trying to avoid the same pitfalls that USC did last weekend in Seattle. The goal for the Huskies is to avoid a major letdown after pulling off one of the biggest wins in the schools history last week after a 16-13 win over the Trojans.
USC didn't have an emotional let down this past Saturday. They hit the field with a high level of intensity from the very first snap. What undid Troy was turnovers, penalties, and mental errors. Washington needs to avoid all of the above going forward because Stanford is very capable of beating the Huskies.
The bookmakers in Nevada have made Stanford a nine point favorite in this one. Obviously they aren't sold on Washington at this point and feel the Huskies will fold on the road against Stanford in the first road game of the year. This was one of the games we all circled in the pre-season as being winnable. In fact we circled it as a must win on the road to a possible 6-6 record and bowl qualification.
A little more is on the line this week because Washington's upset win actually put the Dawgs in the drivers seat to the Rose Bowl. You may snicker all you want but if you can beat USC you should be able to beat anyone. USC coach Pete Carroll actually commented after the game that Washington is capable of winnning every single game left on its schedule.
If you are facing your first road trip...Stanford is the place to do it. The Card's don't draw well despite being in a new stadium and having one of the brightest young coaches in the game. Washington fans will noticeably swell the crowd on Saturday night. Stanford is an easy road trip from Seattle for Husky fans and there are a lot of Washington alumni in the Bay Area.
The key for this week is to stay focused and forget what happened last week against USC. Washington isn't good enough to play through a let down type of situation. Washington isn't good enough to win making the type of mistakes USC did. The only way the Huskies win the majority of their games this season is to approach each game like it is their last.
What sets Washington apart from every team in the league is QB Jake Locker. No other QB in the league is close to his level of proficiency. He can throw for a high percentage and if they unleash him he can burn you for 100 additional yards on the ground. The goal for the first three weeks was just keeping him healthy for the rest of the season. Now that the gauntlet of LSU and USC has passed expect his mobility to become more of a factor as we face slower teams.
Coach Sarkisan has a rule about victories. Celebrate for twenty four hours then get back to business. This team will face a bunch of new distractions this week because the national media is going to be all over them. The coaches challenge this week is to minimize all those distractions and keep the team focused for Stanford.
I have watched every single Pac 10 team play at least once this season and I don't think there is a team out there we can't beat at this point. Now that we have that statement out of the way I also want to make the point that with the exception of Washington State there isn't a single team left on the schedule that can't beat us. For Washington to continue winning they need to stay healthy and keep a big chip on their shoulder. They need to focus like they did for LSU and USC every single week. Washington cannot afford to take anyone lightly.
Stanford is going to be a tough contest. The Cardinals are playing a physical brand of football and Harbaugh continues to upgrade the talent with top rated recruiting classes. Despite the toughness Stanford is too one dimensional on offense. If you can stop or slow their running game you should be able to beat them. They are also prone to turn the ball over so Washington needs to take advantage of that. The Tree committed four turnovers against SJSU.
Defensively the Tree is tough up front and they face a smash mouth offense every single day in practice. The weak link however is the secondary. A QB like Jake Locker has the ability to pick up quite a few yards in the air if he can avoid the pass rush.
Everyone in the media is declaring that Washington is back. If they can put together a win on the road against a tough and physical team that statement will have much more meaning.
.Pac 10 Round Up
California 35 Minnesota 21
Jahvid Best ran wild in the first half for three TD's and 114 yard then disapeared from the offense in the second half. He was back in the game for the fourth quarter and helped Cal vanquish the pesky Gopers with two more TD's. You have to wonder what Tedford was thinking in the second half. Hand it off to your Heisman candidate till they prove they can stop him!
Oregon 31 Utah 24
Some unknown guy named LaMichael James rushed for a career-high 152 yards and a touchdown. Oregon overcame four turnovers and an abysmal performance by quarterback Jeremiah Masoli to beat the No. 18 Utes 31-24 which snapped the nation's longest winning streak. Masoli ran for two touchdowns, but had two fumbles and an interception in the second half that allowed Utah to rally from a 21-7 deficit to within 28-24 by the end of the third quarter.
Stanford 42 San Jose 17
This game was never in doubt as Stanford rushed out to an early lead and coasted the rest of the way. Chris Owusua opened the game with a 94-yard kickoff return and also caught a touchdown pass, Toby Gerhart ran for 113 yards and two TDs. Next up is Washington at home with the early and unexpected twist of championship implications.
WSU 30 SMU 27
Nico Grasu kicked a 39-yard field goal in overtime as Washington State came back to beat Southern Methodist 30-27 on Saturday for their first win of the season. Southern Methodist led 24-7 in the third quarter and seemed to be cruising to victory. Then the WSU defense took control. Linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis picked off Mitchell at midfield and ran the ball back 52 yards for a touchdown late in the third. But the snap for the conversion was fumbled, and the Cougars trailed 24-13. That missed extra point would end up costing them a chance to win in regulation. Linebacker Myron Beck picked off a scrambling Mitchell and outran the Mustangs for a 67-yard touchdown that cut SMU's lead to 27-20 with 10:07 left. The Lobster hit a diving Jared Karstetter in the end zone with 28 seconds left. Grasu kicked the extra point to tie the game at 27-27. The Mustangs had 504 yards of offense, compared to 276 for WSU.
Cincinnati 28 Oregon State 17
Tony Pike led Cincinnati to a road victory against Oregon State.The senior quarterback completed 31 of 49 passes for 332 yards and two touchdowns. I thought the Beavers pass defense was suspect since game one and this game proved it. Pike hit Mardy Gilyard with an 18-yard scoring pass in the fourth quarter to stop a second-half Oregon State comeback bid. The Bearcats (3-0) snapped Oregon State's streak of 26 straight nonconference victories at Reser Stadium, dating back to a 67-28 win over Northern Illinois on Nov. 16, 1996.
Iowa 27 Arizona 17
Freshman running back Adam Robinson rushed for a career-high 101 yards and two touchdowns. Iowa held Arizona to just eight first downs in a 27-17 victory Saturday. Nic Grigsby was held to only 75 yards rushing and that is how you beat Arizona. The Wildcats entered play with the nation's fifth-best rushing offense at 305.5 yards per game, but couldn't get the run or the pass going against an Iowa defense that took control of the game in the second half.
UCLA 23 Kansas State 9
Rick Neuheisel faced the challenge of beating the worst BCS team in the country this side of Washington State and SMU. He came out with a win despite the loss of his starting QB and the suspension of four key players for discipinary reasons. It wasn't pretty and the Bruins needed 10 fourth quarter points to ice the game. Freshman Johnathan Franklin rushed for a career-best 119 yards on 23 carries and Kai Forbath kicked three field goals without a miss for the Bruins. Kevin Craft completed 13 of 24 passes with one interception including a game-clinching 51-yard scoring pass to Terrence Austin with 6:18 left in the game. The Bruins have a much needed bye next week.
Arizona State 38 Louisiana Monroe 14
Exhibition season continued for Dennis Erickson and his ASU Sun Devils in Tempe this weekend. Omar Bolden returned the opening kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown, picked off a pass, and Arizona State routed Louisiana-Monroe 38-14 on Saturday night in a tuneup for its trip to Georgia. The Sun Devils have limited teams from the Big Sky and Sun Belt Conferences to a total of 17 points which makes me think maybe they should move down a level.
Pac 10 Power Ratings
1. California...The Bears win by 14 in a tough environment at Minnesota. The Gophers arent' that good and Cal is one dimensional with a questionable defense. The game was closer than the final score. Oregon will give us a better idea of how good the Bears are.
2. Southern California...Take away the three turnovers and USC beats Washington by around 17 points. USC may not lose another game all year but Saturday's loss shows what happens when you cough up the ball on the road.
3. Washington...Jake Locker is the best player in the league and until someone can stop him Washington will keep winning. Nick Holt's defense was masterful after a shaky first quarter. Imagine that...a Washington coach capable of making game day adjustments!
4. Stanford...The Cards put a USC type of beating on the Spartan's to rebound after the loss to Wake Forest. I thought this one would be a lot closer and it wasn't. Nice rebound game for Stanford. Tomey says it is the toughest Stanford team he has seen in thirty years.
5. Oregon State...Cincinnati will win the Big East this year and be in a major bowl. The Beavers on the other hand will recover and keep getting better. The OSU pass defense needs to tighten if they want to get anywhere this year.
6. UCLA...A 3-0 start and a victory at Tennessee gives these guys the benefit of the doubt, but SDSU is terrible and so is KSU. The Bruins struggled against both opponents and if Tennessee hadn't self destructed so terribly they wouldn't have beaten them. Rumors floating out of LA this week indicate that Neu and Chow aren't getting along well.
7. Arizona...Stoops and his team underperforms at Iowa. Nic Grigsby was held to 75 yards and that is how you stop the Wildcats. The lack of offense caught up to them in game three. Until the Wildcats prove they can throw the ball the box will be loaded to attack Grigsby. Iowa struggled with little Northern Iowa in its opener and had to block a FG at the end to win it. Bud Withers and Bob Condotta keep touting the Wildcats but I have never been able to buy in.
8. Arizona State...We will see what the Sun Devils are made of when they face Georgia next week. I will give them this...They are the best team in the Sunbelt and Big Sky so far this season. The fans in the Phoenix area have been ignoring the team this season. The stadium was only half full for the last two games. Maybe the honeymoon is over in year three.
9. Oregon...The Ducks are 2-1 which is a major achievement after the way they started the season. Utah was way over-rated and even struggled with SJSU last week. Purdue who the Ducks beat in the last seconds at home last week was pounded by Northern Illinois at home today. Put it up on the board as a win but the truth is the Ducks are still struggling on both sides of the ball. Masoli was terrible despite two TD runs.
10. Washington State...The Coug's rally to beat SMU in overtime. So they will end up 1-11 and not 0-12. This is not a well coached team. A victory however is a victory. A season with one win is better than a season with no wins. Knowing your not the worst college football team in the country has to be comforting.
Pac 10 Offensive Player of the Week
Jahvid Best rushed for 131 yards and a modern school-record five touchdowns to help the No. 8 Golden Bears vanquish a road curse in a 35-21 victory over scrappy Minnesota. I know most of you are going to ask this question: What about Jake Locker? Tough choice but five TD's tips it Jahvid's way big time!
Pac 10 Defensive Player of the Week
UW linebacker Donald Butler help hold the USC offense to only 13 points in the college football upset of the year so far. Butler was declared the NCAA defensive player of the week by the gang at Sports Center. The Walter Camp Foundation named him national defensive player of the week. He had one of the better performances I have ever seen from a Husky linebacker. Couldn't happen to a nicer fellah.
Washington Offensive Player of the Week
Jake Locker led UW to a 16-13 upset of USC. He was 21-35 on the day with no interceptions and had one rushing touchdown. Jake is going to have better weeks in the future because he won't face a better defense for the rest of the regular season. Give him a little more time to set up and some room to run and we just may see a challenge to Marques Tuiasosopo's 200-300 game!
Washington Defensive Player of the Week
Donald Butler had the best game of his career. Sark and Holt said Butler was the one of the guys on our team that could have started for SC last year. Looks like they really meant it. Mason Foster comes in with a very close second. He keeps getting better every game.
Lets start it off with a few lines from Art Thiel's column in the PI
But there is no doubt that the Huskies, after 0-12, are again a serious college football team. There is even less question that they are in possession of the most majestic 1-0 conference lead in the history of ball by the lake. Didn't take long at all.
Bob Condotta of the Times beat his readers to the punch with the first quote quote. That is OK Bob because even I picked the Trojans by 7 points! Bob also adds a couple of wise words in a later entry about Washington moving from hunter to hunted status.
"The first grade goes to me, a big, fat F for thinking that the Huskies weren't ready to win a game like that yet."
"It's a heady climb for the Huskies, a year removed from an 0-12 season that's looking a little more unfathomable by the day, and the challenges now change for UW --- you go quickly from hunter to hunted in college football, especially with a history like Washington's. But those worries are for another day. For now, this is more proof of UW's re-entry to college football's center stage."
This in from ESPN's Ted Miller who hasn't been drinking any purple Kool-Aid up till now.
Washington is nobody's patsy: A corpse was rolled out of Husky Stadium on Saturday evening. It was Sucky Husky, who went 12-47 from 2004 until 2008. He's been on life support since Steve Sarkisian was hired and injected him with enthusiasm and hope, which proved deadly for Sucky Husky, who finally succumbed when Erik Folk's short field goal gave Washington a 16-13 victory over No. 3 USC. Suffice it to say, the funeral will be sparsely attended. Washington once was the top alternative to USC in the Pac-10. It was once a program that groused about playing in the Sun Bowl. In a few years, it feels certain that Husky fans will once again grouse about playing in the Sun Bowl.
This in from Jerry Brewer from the Seattle Times
In one game, they punctuated their rapid return to significance, altered conservative preseason predictions of four or five victories and, most likely, launched themselves into the Top 25 for the first time in six years. Oh, and they avenged a 56-love loss from last season.
Bill Plashke of the LA Times drilled Pete Carroll unmercifully and gave little credit to the Washington players. Bill used to write for either the Times or the PI...can't remember which. Too bad he wasn't up in Seattle during the Willingham years. We could have used him!
Don't blame this on the fact that USC was playing without starting quarterback Matt Barkley, because it still out-gained Washington.
Don't blame this on a defense that was missing star Taylor Mays, because it still held Washington to barely 200 yards before its final drive.
Like the man said, blame it on Pete. It has been written here for several years that Carroll is the best coach in college football, but for several hours Saturday he was inexplicably out-coached by a former pupil, Steve Sarkisian, while allowing his team to be outplayed by a former national joke.
Chris Dufrense of the LA Times pursues this angle.
"Nostradamus once predicted Washington and Washington State would undergo years of simultaneous toil and upheaval only to one day rise to win games on the same day -- but this soon? As usual, this is what always happens when you play the games. It was Payback Saturday, not so much for Florida and Texas, but for Washington -- a 56-0 loser to USC last year in the Coliseum."
"I believed that because everything they say has come true," said linebacker Mason Foster, who had a big game with three pass breakups. "From the off-season workouts, to practicing so hard, to now. They said, do this stuff well, and we'll win."
"I thought we had the talent to win last year. We just found ways to lose them," Locker said. "You saw the opposite of that today."
"I think the difference in this game was Jake," said USC coach Pete Carroll. "We kept him under wraps for a while, but when he had to have it, he made it. That's what a great player does."
"I will never forget this day," senior linebacker Donald Butler said. "I will tell my kids about this. I will tell my grandkids about this. Man, this is crazy."
"That's the difference this year. We expect to win," Butler said. "Believe! We all believed we would win."
"To have the moment when the crowd rushes the field, those are things you dream about as a kid -- never mind as a coach -- when you're laying in bed at night throwing the ball in the air," said Steve Sarkisian.
"I don't think this was Jake's best night," Sarkisian said, "but when we needed him, he made plays. He found a way to stay in the game."